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Looking for advice on a receiver

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July 9, 2011 5:45:41 PM

I've been looking for a home theater setup for a while and finally purchased a Mirage Nanostat 5.1 system today. I am completely clueless about receivers and would appreciate some suggestions for one less than $500. There is a possibility that I will be adding another two speakers to make it a 7.1 system, so suggestions for 5.1 and 7.1 receivers would be wonderful.

**My big question: is it possible to hook up my TV, Xbox 360 and PC (X-Fi XtremeGamer sound card) all up to the sound system via a receiver? If so, would I need a special receiver to do so?

Thanks!

EDIT: I've been doing some research and am considering this receiver Denon AVR1611 7.1 Channel. Not sure if it's as good as reviews claim it is.

More about : advice receiver

July 10, 2011 2:07:38 AM

Hi,

Answer to your big question: Yes, you can hook up all your equipment up...including your Xbox, PC, PS3, DVD Player, Blu-Ray...etc...etc...to your receiver. Then the receiver is hooked up to your TV for display.

Receivers were originally designed to do three things:

-Amplifier (Provide power to all the speakers)
-PreAmplifier/Processor (All the surround effects, connections, accessories...etc)
-Tuner (Listening to AM/FM/XM Radio

^A Home Theater must have a preamp (which is the Brain of the home theater), and an Amplifier (The muscle of the home theater). A receiver just acts a cheaper all in one centralized solution now where you can connect everything and manage all your audio through it.

Hope I answered your big question. Modern average receivers do exactly what you require.

Now, about the Denon AVR1611. For one of my home theaters, I personally own a Denon AVR1611. It is an excellent Amp. It has supported for the majority of the formats and provides solid power for speakers. The AVR1611 is the only receiver I have, my other better audio systems have separate Pre-Amp and Amplifiers. The denon 1611 provides power as good as higher end models but is a stripped down version in terms of features and connections. The reason its cheaper is not because it supplies less power, but because it has less connections, inputs, and convenience features. Currently, this receiver can be purchased for less then $300 on sales, even though its worth around $400

However, I have looked at your Mirage 5.1 system and the thing is that the Denon 1611 is a receiver that is much too overkill for your system. You should still focus on reasonable brand, however a receiver under $250 or even under $200 will do everything you need. There are sherwood and sony receivers for under $200 that will do no worse then the Denon you are looking at.
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July 10, 2011 6:14:08 AM

blackhawk1928 said:
Hi,

Answer to your big question: Yes, you can hook up all your equipment up...including your Xbox, PC, PS3, DVD Player, Blu-Ray...etc...etc...to your receiver. Then the receiver is hooked up to your TV for display.

Receivers were originally designed to do three things:

-Amplifier (Provide power to all the speakers)
-PreAmplifier/Processor (All the surround effects, connections, accessories...etc)
-Tuner (Listening to AM/FM/XM Radio

^A Home Theater must have a preamp (which is the Brain of the home theater), and an Amplifier (The muscle of the home theater). A receiver just acts a cheaper all in one centralized solution now where you can connect everything and manage all your audio through it.

Hope I answered your big question. Modern average receivers do exactly what you require.

Now, about the Denon AVR1611. For one of my home theaters, I personally own a Denon AVR1611. It is an excellent Amp. It has supported for the majority of the formats and provides solid power for speakers. The AVR1611 is the only receiver I have, my other better audio systems have separate Pre-Amp and Amplifiers. The denon 1611 provides power as good as higher end models but is a stripped down version in terms of features and connections. The reason its cheaper is not because it supplies less power, but because it has less connections, inputs, and convenience features. Currently, this receiver can be purchased for less then $300 on sales, even though its worth around $400

However, I have looked at your Mirage 5.1 system and the thing is that the Denon 1611 is a receiver that is much too overkill for your system. You should still focus on reasonable brand, however a receiver under $250 or even under $200 will do everything you need. There are sherwood and sony receivers for under $200 that will do no worse then the Denon you are looking at.


Thank you very much for all of that, it was incredibly helpful and answered my main question. Now I have a new one. As i'm shopping/researching for an average Sony receiver are there any particular things I should be looking for (#/type of jacks, amount of power provided, etc)? Are there any particular Sony or Sherwood receivers you'd recommend? I think I may want to get a 7.1 receiver for the capability to keep the option open to add either a center speaker or two floor standing speakers.

I've been looking through a few of them (considering this Sony 7.1 Receiver) and am having trouble figuring out how many watts would be recommended for my system (in a 500 sq ft apartment), as well as a reasonable level of distortion. I was noticing Sony had significantly lower levels of distortion (0.08%) compared to Sherwood (0.7%). The Sony receivers were more expensive so I was curious if the difference would be distinguishable enough to justify the ~$100 price difference.

Based on my understanding of what you explained before, my cable box/Xbox/PC would all be hooked up to the receiver (likely via HDMI?) and then the receiver would be hooked up to the TV via HDMI and then also to the actual speakers? Also, if I wanted to utilize my PC's sound card, would that be possible just using a 3.5mm to RCA cable from the card to the receiver?

I can't thank you enough for the help, you've been able to provide me with answers exactly how I had hoped for and had been unable to find on other sites.
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July 10, 2011 4:18:53 PM

Quote:

Thank you very much for all of that, it was incredibly helpful and answered my main question. Now I have a new one. As i'm shopping/researching for an average Sony receiver are there any particular things I should be looking for (#/type of jacks, amount of power provided, etc)?


Well, I can help you find a specific one if you list me the amount of equipment you will be hooking up to the receiver. Some of them have more HDMI connections and some have less, you need to make sure you have enough. Now, also remember this, you don't absolutely have to connect everything to your receiver. In my my main home theater, I have a pre-amp, I barely use any HDMI, my cable box is connected via fiberoptic, and my Blu-Ray is connected via digital coaxial cable directly...not even through the TV.

Whichever method of connection is easier for you. I do recommend connected everything to the receiver as you'll have to use less wires and a less hassle to set it up, so give me a list or just tell me the number of devices you want to use with your home theater and I'll look for a amp with the proper amount of connections.

Quote:

I think I may want to get a 7.1 receiver for the capability to keep the option open to add either a center speaker or two floor standing speakers.


Yeah, the majority of receivers now are 7-channel. There are even 9channel which are starting to be released and a few 11 channel also. However don't worry about this, because all sources...(blu-ray, cable, DVD's...etc) are all 5 or 7 channel anyway, plus the extra speakers of 9 and 11 channel amps (there probably less than a dozen out right now anyway), are all presense so they are used for ambient effects which DO not add to the surround sound effect since no format (Dolby or DTS) supports that, rendering them pretty useless unless you want a larger sound-stage or have a large room.

Now, let me quickly explain why I mention 5 channel amps, instead of a 5.1, incase that confused you. 5 channel is your center speaker, front speakers, and surround speakers. The .1 in 5.1 is the subwoofer which plays the LFE, or LOW FREQUENCY EFFECTS. A regular powered subwoofer is not connected to an amp or receiver via speaker wire, its connected to the "Subwoofer Pre-Out" connected using a component cable. Some amps/preamps/receivers have 2 subwoofer pre-outs...therefore if a 7-channel amp had 2 subwoofer pre-out connections, you can connect two subwoofers and therefore the amp would have 7.2 channel instead of 7.1 channel. HOWEVER, since many subwoofers have an extra pre-out on themselves, you can connect two subwoofers to a 7.1 amp, even with one pre-out connection. You will connect one subwoofer to the amp, and then the other subwoofer to your first subwoofer.

Ask any questions if I lost you anywhere.

Quote:

I've been looking through a few of them (considering this Sony 7.1 Receiver) and am having trouble figuring out how many watts would be recommended for my system (in a 500 sq ft apartment),


Receiver and amplifier power rating are all BS. Depending on what brand and what tier of products they sell, the power ratings are untruthful and are always overrated from many brands other than the top dogs. However it doesn't really matter, because your speakers are very small and don't require any power, and since you obviously will not be listening at full volume, the majority of your listening will require only a few watts per channel, which is why any receiver will do really :) .

Quote:

as well as a reasonable level of distortion


Do not worry about that, the distortion level of speakers and subwoofers and the environment you are in will produce distortion way before your receiver ever will, its quite pointless unless your room is acoustically set up perfect and you have REALLY good speakers playing from a high quality source (Blu-Ray, or for music, a digital connection using a high quality DVD .wav or MP3 file). Plus distortion does not accumulate until you reach high volumes usually.

Quote:

Based on my understanding of what you explained before, my cable box/Xbox/PC would all be hooked up to the receiver (likely via HDMI?) and then the receiver would be hooked up to the TV via HDMI and then also to the actual speakers?


Exactly!
Your speakers will be connected via speaker terminals in your receiver using speaker wire. All your equipment will be hooked up to the receiver, and then finally, the receiver is hooked up to the TV.

Quote:

Also, if I wanted to utilize my PC's sound card, would that be possible just using a 3.5mm to RCA cable from the card to the receiver?


I don't think so, to connect a PC, you must use a component cable and connect the sound card "digital audio" connector to the digital coaxial connection on your receiver. Thats the true digital way to get best quality.

Keep the questions coming, we're here to help :) 
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July 10, 2011 5:39:57 PM

blackhawk1928 said:
Well, I can help you find a specific one if you list me the amount of equipment you will be hooking up to the receiver. Some of them have more HDMI connections and some have less, you need to make sure you have enough. Now, also remember this, you don't absolutely have to connect everything to your receiver. In my my main home theater, I have a pre-amp, I barely use any HDMI, my cable box is connected via fiberoptic, and my Blu-Ray is connected via digital coaxial cable directly...not even through the TV.

Whichever method of connection is easier for you. I do recommend connected everything to the receiver as you'll have to use less wires and a less hassle to set it up, so give me a list or just tell me the number of devices you want to use with your home theater and I'll look for a amp with the proper amount of connections.

Quote:

Also, if I wanted to utilize my PC's sound card, would that be possible just using a 3.5mm to RCA cable from the card to the receiver?


I don't think so, to connect a PC, you must use a component cable and connect the sound card "digital audio" connector to the digital coaxial connection on your receiver. Thats the true digital way to get best quality.

Keep the questions coming, we're here to help :) 


You have been more helpful than I could have ever hoped for. I feel like I'm actually learning this :) 

Everything with the channels you explained makes perfect sense to me. So assuming I've hooked up my 5.1 system to a 7.1 receiver; if I wanted to add a center speaker, two floor standing speakers or two bookshelf speakers all I would need to do is connect them via speaker wire and I'd be good to go?

It's good to know about the distortion because I certainly will not be having my volume anywhere near maxed out. Speaking of acoustics, are there any good guides/tips as to ideal or recommended positioning of speakers throughout a room? Also, are these systems generally easy to install (providing the manufacturers manual is half-decent)? The only thing that really intimidates me at this point is understanding the different types of connections, and which ones I should use for various pieces of equipment.

Regarding the PC/sound card I have a few questions. Currently I have my computer connected to my TV using a HDMI cable from my video card to my TV to provide video (also does audio). I use this to play movies on my computer but watch on a bigger screen than my monitor. I also have a 2.1 computer speaker system (recycling after I get this new system) hooked up to my sound card with the provided 3.5mm jack. The problem with using HDMI to connect my PC to the TV is that it doesn't utilize the sound card. So if I want to use my sound card for the system I assumed I'd need to connect my PC to the receiver twice. Once with HDMI from the video card (providing the video), and then some other connection from the sound card to the receiver (providing the sound). The sound card only has 3.5mm jacks so I'm guessing I'll need an adapter for the component cable to 3.5mm.

I'm trying to figure out all cords and adapters I'm going to need to hook up the entire system. Perhaps with the list of my equipment and the connections they're currently using you would be able to help me figure this out. I'd be open to switching the connection type to simplify things or improve quality. Thank you again for all your help :) 

Connections:
1. Xbox 360 (HDMI)
2. Comcast DVR (HDMI)
3. PC (HDMI) - will need another connection for the sound card to the receiver.

**Sound card specs/connection info
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July 10, 2011 8:39:53 PM

Quote:

You have been more helpful than I could have ever hoped for. I feel like I'm actually learning this :) 


Haha, no problem :) 

Quote:

Everything with the channels you explained makes perfect sense to me. So assuming I've hooked up my 5.1 system to a 7.1 receiver; if I wanted to add a center speaker, two floor standing speakers or two bookshelf speakers all I would need to do is connect them via speaker wire and I'd be good to go?


Well, I'm not sure what you mean by this, in a 5.1 system, there already is a center channel. In a 7.1 channel system, all you are doing is adding two more speakers behind you called Rear Surrounds. Please explain.

If you mean you want "Replace" the current speakers with other ones or perhaps better ones if you one day choose, than all you need to do is disconnect the old ones and connect the new ones. Speakers are connected to the amplifier/receiver via speaker wire which ends up hooking up to the receiver.

If you want a simpler and easy way to visualize, I can post up a picture of a regular receiver, like as sony and show arrows to what connects where such as speakers and other equipment to make it easier. As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words.

Quote:

It's good to know about the distortion because I certainly will not be having my volume anywhere near maxed out. Speaking of acoustics, are there any good guides/tips as to ideal or recommended positioning of speakers throughout a room?


Well all rooms are acoustically different. In professional home theaters, ones that cost thousands, hundreds of thousands, some even millions (I've seen one), have special acoustic insulation installed into the walls and special panels placed around the entire room to prevent any sound reflection which results in inaccurate surround effects. However...thats just taking it way to far.

In terms of placing speakers, all your speakers should be at around the level of your ear when you are sitting. Due to human hearing perception, high frequency sounds are extremely directional (meaning you can easily pinpoint the source of the sound), and thats why all the speakers should be at ear height and angled to point at the area of where you will be sitting for optimal surround sound effect.

Now, also due to human hearing, low frequencies are extremely difficult if not impossible to pinpoint the location from where they coming from, which is why you can hide the subwoofer out of view or put it anywhere you want it, it will sound the same.

^To add to the above, if you want more bass, place it closer to the wall or better yet, a corner, as the close it is, the more resonance and therefore will result you in hearing deeper and louder bass, while if you place it further away, it will result in less bass. Thats all about acoustics.

Quote:

Also, are these systems generally easy to install (providing the manufacturers manual is half-decent)?


Depending on the system, yes, very easy usually. And if you have any questions, just ask me...I know my stuff in this area so to speak :) .

Quote:

The only thing that really intimidates me at this point is understanding the different types of connections, and which ones I should use for various pieces of equipment.


Nothing to worry about, peace of cake, if you want I'll post a picture with arrows/directions where to connect everything. Its very easy.

Quote:

The problem with using HDMI to connect my PC to the TV is that it doesn't utilize the sound card. So if I want to use my sound card for the system I assumed I'd need to connect my PC to the receiver twice. Once with HDMI from the video card (providing the video), and then some other connection from the sound card to the receiver (providing the sound). The sound card only has 3.5mm jacks so I'm guessing I'll need an adapter for the component cable to 3.5mm.


The thing is that you can buy an adapter cable from a 3.5mm to a component/RCA cable which will work, in which case you will be able to use a SPDIF connection I think for digital audio, and I think you need multiple adapter also, I'm actually not exactly sure about this right now, but I'll check.

However, just wondering but does your motherboard itself have a digital audio out?

And yes, for your equipment, everything is HDMI, so it will easy to connect everything to the receiver.
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July 10, 2011 10:36:07 PM

Quote:
Well, I'm not sure what you mean by this, in a 5.1 system, there already is a center channel. In a 7.1 channel system, all you are doing is adding two more speakers behind you called Rear Surrounds. Please explain.

If you mean you want "Replace" the current speakers with other ones or perhaps better ones if you one day choose, than all you need to do is disconnect the old ones and connect the new ones. Speakers are connected to the amplifier/receiver via speaker wire which ends up hooking up to the receiver.


I'm not entirely sure if I have correctly understood what I've read about the Nanostat 5.1 system I got, but I think all five of the satellite speakers are the same and it doesn't matter what channel they're on. I have been reading about people adding a front bar speaker as the satellite speaker didn't work as well for the center channel as they had hoped. It is more likely though that I will add a pair of bookshelf speakers to a shelf above my computer/desk since I'm thinking of positioning the Nanostats towards my tv/bed/chair. I was wondering if I sent pictures of the area I'm looking to put the system, if you'd be able to help suggest speaker placement.

Quote:
If you want a simpler and easy way to visualize, I can post up a picture of a regular receiver, like as sony and show arrows to what connects where such as speakers and other equipment to make it easier. As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words.
Quote:
Depending on the system, yes, very easy usually. And if you have any questions, just ask me...I know my stuff in this area so to speak :) .
Quote:

Nothing to worry about, peace of cake, if you want I'll post a picture with arrows/directions where to connect everything. Its very easy.

That would be incredible if you did that. It would make this process significantly easier for me :) 

Quote:
The thing is that you can buy an adapter cable from a 3.5mm to a component/RCA cable which will work, in which case you will be able to use a SPDIF connection I think for digital audio, and I think you need multiple adapter also, I'm actually not exactly sure about this right now, but I'll check.

However, just wondering but does your motherboard itself have a digital audio out?


To be completely honest, I'm not sure if it does or not. I would guess it does, but I'm not entirely sure how to determine if it's digital audio or not. It is an ASRock Extreme4.
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Best solution

July 11, 2011 3:44:57 AM

Quote:


I'm not entirely sure if I have correctly understood what I've read about the Nanostat 5.1 system I got, but I think all five of the satellite speakers are the same and it doesn't matter what channel they're on. I have been reading about people adding a front bar speaker as the satellite speaker didn't work as well for the center channel as they had hoped. It is more likely though that I will add a pair of bookshelf speakers to a shelf above my computer/desk since I'm thinking of positioning the Nanostats towards my tv/bed/chair. I was wondering if I sent pictures of the area I'm looking to put the system, if you'd be able to help suggest speaker placement.


Well yes, all the speakers are the same, as long as they are placed in correlation to which channel position they are connected (meaning that if the speaker is connected into the terminal for Surround-Right position, it must be placed behind and to the right of you to work properly). If you do not like how the speaker sounds, you can buy or use a different speaker in its place. Center channel is the most important part of a home theater. Almost all the dialogue and mid range are played by that one single speaker, which accounts for 50%+ of the entire movie track. So if there is a channel you want sounding good, it should be the center.

For music...its a different story lol, you'd want better left/right speakers instead since music is stereo.

Quote:

I was wondering if I sent pictures of the area I'm looking to put the system, if you'd be able to help suggest speaker placement.


Sure no problem :) . Glad to help.

Here is image of a regulat sony receiver.



^Click to zoom in on the image and get a close look.

I also took a look at your motherboard, and it does have a digital audio out...with a component cable, you can connect your computer digitally directly to your receiver in the coaxial (coax) connection. This way its 100% digital connection. Your sound card doesn't have this connection and you will need to buy an adapter to make it work, so in the meantime you should use your motherboard as a connection.

Basically your receiver is a centralized HUB where everything gets connected to and then only one wire is connected the TV, so it makes you require much less wires and is easier to select between stuff.
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July 11, 2011 4:52:08 AM

blackhawk1928 said:
Quote:

I was wondering if I sent pictures of the area I'm looking to put the system, if you'd be able to help suggest speaker placement.
Sure no problem :) . Glad to help.



I also took a look at your motherboard, and it does have a digital audio out...with a component cable, you can connect your computer digitally directly to your receiver in the coaxial (coax) connection. This way its 100% digital connection. Your sound card doesn't have this connection and you will need to buy an adapter to make it work, so in the meantime you should use your motherboard as a connection..


So if I was to hook up my PC to the receiver for video purposes, I'd plug it into the "VIDEO (IN 4)" HDMI slot correct? And in order to connect my sound card, I'd be using a 3.5mm to component adapter?

Also are there any particular Sony 7.1 receivers you'd recommend for me? I've been browsing through numerous ones on Amazon and Newegg and have no idea if I should just get the cheapest one I can find (THIS).

I'll PM you the pictures of the area i'd like to setup the system. Thank you again for all of your assistance with this :) 
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July 11, 2011 4:44:27 PM

Best answer selected by Bacillus.
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July 13, 2011 7:32:49 PM

Bacillus said:
So if I was to hook up my PC to the receiver for video purposes, I'd plug it into the "VIDEO (IN 4)" HDMI slot correct? And in order to connect my sound card, I'd be using a 3.5mm to component adapter?

Also are there any particular Sony 7.1 receivers you'd recommend for me? I've been browsing through numerous ones on Amazon and Newegg and have no idea if I should just get the cheapest one I can find (THIS).

I'll PM you the pictures of the area i'd like to setup the system. Thank you again for all of your assistance with this :) 


Is the Sony STRDH520 7.1 Receiver the one you got? I am in the same boat as you! I just recently purchased the Mirage system and looking for advice as well.
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July 13, 2011 7:38:33 PM

crazib88 said:
Is the Sony STRDH520 7.1 Receiver the one you got? I am in the same boat as you! I just recently purchased the Mirage system and looking for advice as well.


I actually ended up getting the Denon AVR-1611 I linked to in my first post. The reason I ended up with the "overpowered" receiver is I wanted multi-zone support.
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July 14, 2011 12:06:07 AM

those little speakers are cute.
too bad there is no power rating listed for them.
i'd be scared i am going to burn them up with too much electricity.

how do they sound?
i bet it is a bit unreal with those diffusors above the speakers.

could you hide a speaker and not really be able to point exactly where the sound is coming from?

if i was to play with some reverb..
i would measure the distance from the speaker cone to the diffusor dome, and let that be my first measurement for the time domain.
and then use the second measurement for the time domain to be the measurement from the dome to my ears.
that would really liven things up.
because then.. there would be some account for the distance between the speaker cone and the diffusor dome, and you could then adjust the angle of the sound up or down from the cube.

i dont know how well it would work though.
and if any cube was close to the wall.. i would at least reconcile any defeat and put the wall into the equation as the second reflection.. and try to steer that reflection towards my ears.

might not be the biggest improvement, but it would certainly be an improvement.
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July 20, 2011 12:36:59 AM

find and read all the reveiws you can before you buy anything. some of the manufactures are making receivers with glitches and firmware issues and some companies that have been regarded as high are becoming mediocre or even lousy. i have had good luck with yamaha being poor and on such a thin budget for fun :hello: 
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